Proceedings from advanced course for senior academic and management staff in laboratory animal science, Die, July 6-15, 1990
The subject was restricted to the communication with the general public, often represented by journalists. Initially, it was also stated that we have to approach them with the prerequisite that they are entitled to get the proper information. Some general rules were given, for example be honest, be clear and concise, don’t exaggerate, don’t oversimplify, prepare yourself with answers to common questions and examples of benefits from animals used in biomedical research. Also consider whether or not to seek support from professional public relation staff.
When communicating, try to concentrate on a few issues and try to put forward questions yourself. Avoid pure propaganda.
A few examples of general statements were given that might be useful:
— All humans, livestock and pets are consumers of the results from animal research.
— Relatively few animals are used for trivial purposes, e.g. cosmetics.
— The development of alternative methods, not using live animals, is stimulated by their relatively lower costs.
— Data from animals cannot always be extrapolalated to man, but it reduces the risks.
— Give figures and facts on other human use of animals, but don’t use it to justify lab-animal use.
— Pictures of severely diseased humans might underline the need for biomedical research.
It was recommended that ICLAS addresses editors of journals so as to point out that animals and their environment should be described adequately, and that certain guidelines should be followed concerning the ethical aspects of animal use.